Work-in-Progress Girl


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30/30 Sewing Challenge: Month End

You know, I keep thinking I should have more to show because I’ve spent SO MUCH time crafting this month, but so much of it was absorbed in the beginning of the month with the Radiant Orchid challenge mini-quilt, that once I was finished with that, nearly all my time went into making things I had to make – bee blocks and swap projects. Which, hey, nothing wrong with that, but I still have so much more I wanted to finish this month!

It’s the last day of March, for example, [or the first day of April, even… I fell asleep before I could finished editing this post yesterday] and I didn’t even touch my Gypsy Wife booklet! Not a single Gypsy Wife block sewn in March! But if I get them done by the weekend, I’m still linking up with Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day.

Beginnings of two #quilts -- lowish volume and loud for the #gypsywifequiltalong

This (rather dreadful Instagram photo in a too-dark room) is where both my Gypsy Wife quilts are at. I’m really, really wanting to get working on these, but that Pershing block is really kind of scaring me – I’ve been having issues with details lately and none of my blocks lately have been working out quite like I hope. Pershing is not a good one for when you’re feeling wibbly about your sewing skills.

I’m also six blocks behind on the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong! Six blocks!

Layer Cake Sampler QAL... so far...

This is where I’m at though! Loving how this is coming together, although I do feel a little bit like it’s too pink. I’ll have to wait till I have more blocks together, but maybe I’ll need to sash it in a dark purple or burgundy or something. I think I have a bunch of yardage from this line (Eva by Basic Grey), which was meant to be used as backing for a different Eva quilt-in-progress, but depending what the fabrics are, maybe I’ll be able to use it for finishing the quilt.

So what have I gotten done since finishing my Orchid quilt? Well… a couple bee blocks:

Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block

Neither one of them turned out exactly as I’d hoped – I don’t know… the first one came together pretty well, but that second one is a mess of bad points and it’s a little too small and I was really not happy with it. But I kind of love the colours – that domino dot was a great match for that centre print, although I think it’s a lot more green than the recipient was looking for. In any case, I had changed the needle (and thread) in between sewing the first block and the second and it was just a fight to get anything to work properly. I’m not sure what’s the culprit – maybe the bobbin is wound crookedly, maybe the needle has a bad point or it’s slightly misshapen or the wrong size or maybe I’m a poor craftsman who is blaming her tools. In any case, I’m going to start swapping things out and see if something helps.

I also finished a few things for the 4S swap on Flickr… I don’t want to write a full post about those yet, but here is a shot of the drawstring bag I created and the pincushion I tucked in along with some other treats (fabric and candy and chocolate…):

mosaic5574cfc68196e492b4700c6faf416cc886004dc2

I feel like there must be more, but I’m drawing a blank on it, so I guess that’s what I’ve been up to with all my 30 minutes (and more) of crafting every day for the last while! Truly, the majority of the month was taken up with this guy, time hog that it was:

Radiant Orchid mini quilt

Linking up with Sarah at Berry Barn Designs for the 30/30 Sewing Challenge. In general I was pretty successful with the 30 minutes a day thing, I think I only missed once on a weekend when I was unexpectedly working nights (but had expected to have time off). It feels like not very much stuff, considering the time I put into it, but crafting really can be a huge time suck. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a speedy thing, even when something moves along quickly.

Berry Barn Designs

Linking up also to WIP Wednesday at Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Sew Fresh Quilts

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Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt

It took me a long time to warm up to making a project for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge – I didn’t have many purples in my stash, even fewer of them in that sort of reddish-pinky-purple that Radiant Orchid seems to be, and I just didn’t have any ideas. But then I read a blog post at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that introduced me to the hand over-dyed threads produced by Colour Complements. Mary was running a giveaway for threads from their Etsy shop and I got sucked into thread heaven, a place filled with pretty, pretty cotton and rayon, and I forgot the giveaway entirely: I just had to buy some thread immediately.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I paired up my sampler pack of threads (three sizes of perle cotton, a rayon chainette, and another very fine rayon thread) with three shades of Kaffee Fassett shot-cotton – Grape, Granite, and Lilac. I choose very quiet fabrics because I wanted to try out something called Kantha quilting and I wanted the stitching to pop, rather than blend into a busy print background. Kantha is a type of embroidery used in parts of India and Bangladesh to give new life to old saris – women would stack up several layers of old, worn saris and stitch them together using a running stitch which could be done in long straight lines or could used to create patterns or pictures. Most of the newer kantha quilts I’ve seen are done exclusively with the running stitches running across the quilts with little extra decoration, but if you do a Google image search or even go to Wikipedia, you can see pictures of some of the more decorative patterns that can be made with Kantha quilting.

Radiant Orchid mini-quilt

I did a little bit of both types, I suppose, since I did largely just straight lines, but also interrupted myself to include a very literal interpretation of the Radiant Orchid challenge. (So literal that I also brought an orchid home so that I could do a triple orchid take – plant, representation of the plant, colour named after the plant.) Because I was working with a sampler pack of threads, I had a little of a lot of varieties of thread, but not a lot of any of them, so I did five repeating rows of (six) different threads, which I also hoped would give it a nice texture and maybe kind of draw the eye around with the different shades of purple and pink (and little splashes of gold) .

Straight Stitching

I stitched the whole thing without a hoop or pins or anything – it was small enough it didn’t feel like it needed much support to keep it together, though I did start with the rayon thread and stitch it every 1-inch or so to help stabilize it enough that I really really didn’t have to worry. I was surprised by how much (overall) I enjoyed the process of stitching – it felt like it should have been tedious, but I didn’t get tired of it until I was near the end and using the worst of the threads – a 100% polyester (which feels scratchy and horrible) and the very thick perle cottons, which my needle was resistant to threading and which then didn’t want to take more than a single stitch at a time. The sparkle chainette (the one with gold flecks) was also a bit difficult because it was incredibly stretchy: I started with a piece of thread the width of the cloth and somehow managed to stitch TWO full lines without starting another length of the stuff.

Orchids

I free-hand stitched the orchids following a tutorial from Drago Art. For the flowers, I used another variegated perle cotton, this one in a blue-green-purple blend, but I found it sunk back into the background too much, so I outlined a lot of it with a very pale lavender DMC floss. Unlike the rest of the stitches in the piece, that back stitch does NOT travel to the back of the quilt – it’s all on the surface. A third thread was used to stitch the stem – it’s maybe a little too bright, but I like it anyway, so we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.

006

Anyway, this project absorbed a lot of my time throughout the first couple weeks in March, so much so that I feel like I should be sick of it now, but I’m pretty proud of how it all came out. It kind of dresses up that weird little nook in the strairwell/kitchen along with that print of one of Rodin’s Cambodian dancers and the actual orchids. My sister will likely hate the purple, so it won’t last there too long, I don’t imagine, but eventually it’ll go dress up my Mum’s house for spring.

This was finished on 17 March 2014 and stitched entirely by hand, by me. The binding was sewn to the front and hand-stitched to the back. The fabrics are all Kaffee Fassett shot cottons: the binding is “Grape,” the front is “Granite” and the back is “Lilac.” The threads are all from Colour Complements, except for one shiny purple one (directly above the gold flecked rayon) and the orchid outline, which are both DMC, though one is cotton and the other a horrible, scratchy Polyester. (Seriously, I don’t recommend it.) The quilt measures 15.5″ x 19″ and it is nameless, as are most of my quilts.

This was also my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal for March (goal post here), so success on all fronts!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge My Button


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30/30 Challenge – Week Two

So the sewing for 30(plus) minutes a day thing is going over pretty well! Unfortunately, I spent most of my time working on the same project, so it’s not a very exciting show and tell for the week:

More Radiant Orchid

It is done now, though, so it should be more interesting from here on out! But yes, this is my Pantone Quilt Challenge project… but I’m still keeping it under-wraps, a bit, because I want to stage my photos a little bit and I need to either do it at work (where I have access to some props, and thus I need to do it in the middle of the night while no one is there to wonder WTF I’m doing and why they’re paying me to do it) or I need to buy one prop in particular and bring it home and do it on a sunny morning. So.. all you get to see still is some rows of stitching and my four finished corners. I love when stitching binding and you round that last corner and there’s just a few more inches of binding to go. Best part of a project.

I also stitched up another two blocks for the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong:

Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

I LOVE this block. (I don’t love the wrinkling, though.)

Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

I had a slightly more frustrating time with this block – it just wanted to wrinkle all over the place and the corners wouldn’t line up and it drove me slightly made in general. But I’m trying to just let it go! It won’t be horrible in the finished quilt, it’ll just be another block.

I’m still two blocks behind and I was going to stitch them up on Monday, but I got distracted by the prospect of making a sample drawstring bag for the 4S Swap (Simple and Sweet Scrappy Swap) on Flickr. I had some purple fabric in a heap near my sewing table (rejects from early in the Pantone Quilt Challenge process) and really, really wanted to use that Anna Maria Horner fabric from Dowry:

Drawstring Bag

It’s such an easy little project to make, and I think every single one I’ve seen has looked great. I added a little flange to mine to emphasize some of the blue in the print and to tie it all in to the lining fabric. It might have been a slightly brighter blue than it needed to be — the perils of choosing fabrics in a mostly dark/ill-lit room — but I love it anyway. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this bag, probably I’ll give it away eventually, but making it was all for my enjoyment, and I did.

Linking up to The Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and 30/30 Sewing Challenge at Berry Barn Designs and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Berry Barn Designs Sew Fresh Quilts


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ALYOF: I got sunshine…

So back at the beginning of the month, I set a few goals for myself:

1. Two bee blocks
2. Sunshine Pillow
3. Cat Faces
4. Confetti Go Lucky quilt

The one that I cared about the most, that I set as my goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was the Sunshine pillow. And it got done slightly last minute, but done it is!

Sunshine cushion

This cushion cover was based on Katherine from Sew Me Something Good‘s Joy cushion that she created for Blogathon Canada last November. I don’t generally decorate with holiday things, but I really liked the idea of the pattern, so I kind of thought about it and sat on it and downloaded the pattern from Craftsy anyway (I think this will take you where you can get it…) and then I’d ordered some fabric from a shop that was giving away mini charm packs with purchases over x-amount of dollars, and I’d told the shop owner to surprise me. She sent me Kate Spain’s Sunnyside and I thought… sunshine? Yeah, I can do something with that.

As a bit of an aside, I was hugely amused by how few “sunny” prints are actually in the Sunnyside line: there are eleven or twelve that you could call orange or yellow, and then 28ish that are green, blue, or grey. Anyway, I arranged them from orange through yellow then green and teal to indigo from the left and light blue to grey to indigo from the right so that it would be like the sunshine was pushing in on a cloudy day, pushing away the clouds and wind and rain. The gold is just a Kona cotton that I had enough of and which worked the best of all the yellows I have. It was dark enough to provide some contrast with the lighter yellows in the line and didn’t seem to actively clash with any of the other colours (though that teal in the raindrop print is a near thing… it’s a bit of a strange colour choice in the line).

If you go check out Katherine’s Joy pillow, you’ll notice that I got lazy pretty quickly. I couldn’t settle on two different fabrics for the words, so that I could have the shadowed/layered effect used in the pattern, so I decided just to use one and then have a contrasting stitch instead. But then all I had was a copper coloured thread (I don’t have a lot of coloured threads) and it didn’t really contrast as much as I’d hoped.

I got...

Anyway, forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad. Let’s talk about embroidery instead – I loved the font I picked for the embroidery. I forget what it’s called, but I need to find it again because I’m totally using it for my next embroidery pattern (which will be part of the As You Wish quilt and stitch-along at Fandom in Stitches… and let me further interrupt myself to say how AMAZING the patterns are for this project… I’m not working on it right now because All The Projects Ever, but I’m totally keeping this one as a future thought because LOVE, and if you’re a fan of The Princess Bride – and how could you not be? Westley! Inigo Montoya! As You Wish! Giants! Adventure! True Love! (is this a kissing book?) – then you’ll love it all too). Anyway. Font. I love the shape of the letters, the curves and it stitched up beautifully with my favourite stitch, the split stitch (it kind of got mashed down when I pressed it the last time — forgot to put a towel under it!), and I think it’d work well with a stem stitch too (though maybe not with a back stitch, which a lot of people love, but the curves might be too tight for that). In another bout of laziness, I didn’t want to go buy thread that would work for the pillow, so I just used something I had – “Bell Pull” from Sublime Stitching’s Parlour colour palette – which is too near a match to the background fabric. But the stitching came out nicely and it’s readable if you’re not half-way across the room, so forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad.

You know what else gets the job done and doesn’t look (too) bad?

003

Grey zipper! If you were around on WIP Wednesday, then you know why I used a grey zipper. But just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original gold one:

Sigh.

This is why we shouldn’t sew when we’re tired. I didn’t want to go back to the store to buy another 22″ gold zipper (it’s an 18-in pillow, but that’s the size I had to buy to get a gold one that wasn’t ludicrously small for the size of the pillow), so I went with grey. I really should have made a flap to hide the zipper, but after sewing my zipper closed and then cutting off the business end of the zip, I thought I’d better stay away from anything more complicated than just stitching fabric onto the zipper and then top stitching it to make it look nice. The grey line isn’t horrible, but it sure does stand out, doesn’t it? Anyway, the fabric is Hive in Maize from Joel Dewberry’s Bungalow line. I love this print and am slightly appalled that I wasted so much of it on the back of a cushion (why didn’t I just use a solid gold? It’s not like I didn’t have more of the gold from the front of the cushion!) and I want to buy more! more! more! But I am supposed to be fabric fasting (and I totally crashed and burned today, but that’s a story for another day), so I’d better hold off and hope it’s still available in 5 months.

Anyway, back to my generalized laziness with this project. I really wanted to try out Katherine’s binding method for the edge of the cushion, but lazy. So very lazy. I even had a pretty orange fabric picked out that would have helped tie in the orange from the words, but nope. Lazy.

005

The quilting is kind of lazy too – a lot of organic lines, where organic means “can’t be arsed to make it straight, so I’m going to make it curve and call it intentional”. It’s a look I like though, so that helps! I had very little copper thread left, so I used up the spool and then used a basic off-white for the rest of the quilting. I also did a very, very quick and dirty stitch in the ditch around the four-patches, which I’ve very helpfully shown off in this picture where I just didn’t, couldn’t, you’re not gonna make me! stay inside the lines.

But you know what, for all my picking apart of the bits and pieces I don’t think are as awesome as they could be, I really love how this cushion came out. It makes me smile and it’s warmer and brighter than this miserable snowy winter we’re trudging our way through. This part of the winter (late January/February) is always sort of the worst for me.. it’s the bit when it feels the most never-ending, like we’re going to have snow for the rest of eternity because Winter isn’t just Coming, it’s already here and it’s got no plans of letting go. So a happy bit of sunshine is just the thing.

Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by the lovely Jo at Riddle & Whimsy and A Lovely Year of Finishes with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs and Shanna at Fiber of All Sorts:

A Lovely Year of Finishes


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2013 in Review

Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.

Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.

And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.

Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:

2013 Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.

2013 - Quilts and Quilt Tops

It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:

2013 - Minis & Flags

These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)

2013 - All the Little Finishes

And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)

So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.

(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)


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Little Things

I’ve made a lot of little things in the last little while, so here’s a big photodump of an entry talking about all of them.

I guess I should go back in time to the thing I made longest ago, back in September or October, I think, which was a little mini-quilt, based on the Ravenclaw house crest:

Ravenclaw Mini

I made this for Mari-Ann/RockIslander, who is a Ravenclaw. I took a picture of the Ravenclaw crest from online, blew it up a fair bit, traced around the edges of the eagle and transferred the pattern (in reverse) to fusible web. So then I cut it out (using the sharpest cuticle scissors ever, which are so much more awesome for cutting delicate fabric bits than for mangling finger tips) and fused the bird to the background. It’s actually two layers of fused fabric – the background wing was done separately, so that I could use a darker portion of the fabric, which I hoped would give some depth and sort of visually separate the two wings. Then I stitched around the bird, creating feathers in the wings and tail. (You can see a photo of that here from Mari-Ann – my own picture of the back turned out terribly, but I’d already sent it away and couldn’t try for another shot!) In the crest, the stripes run the opposite direction, but I paper-pieced that portion as well, and forgot to reverse that pattern! Oh well.

I like to think that if I were a Hogwarts student, I’d have been a Ravenclaw myself, but I bet I’d have wound up in Hufflepuff because I was really far too lazy a student to have made Ravenclaw when I was in high school. Hufflepuff sometimes seems to be the fall-back house: you don’t fit anywhere else? Well, Hufflepuff it is, then.

Children's Wash Cloths

About two weeks ago I was clearing out some stuff from the plastic cabinets in my sewing room, and I found a pile of children’s fabrics I didn’t even remember I had. I tend to avoid buying children’s fabrics because I never know what to do with them and I don’t have children, so no particular need for items made using children’s fabric. But I do sometimes buy scrap packs of fabric, and I’ve started to amass a fair collection of children’s prints from those scraps and from the occasional times I’ve bought children’s fabrics to make gifts for friends who are having babies. When I found this particular print, I just got the urge to do SOMETHING with it, but it was a small piece of fabric – about 8 to 8.5 inches wide at the largest point by width of fabric – and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Then I remembered having seen a tutorial ages ago for making wash cloths out of terry cloth and cotton. Well. Terry cloth I’ve got. Several years ago I had the genius plan to make little hooded bath towels for babies. Which, needless to say, didn’t happen. So yeah. Wash cloths. (I didn’t go look for a tutorial because… it’s just not that complicated.) I’m torn between making wash cloths till the end of time (or just the end of that million miles of terry cloth) to use up all the ginormous pile of children’s fabric I didn’t realize I had and just giving away the fabric. I was thinking about getting rid of it all on Sew Mama Sew’s December giveaway day, but to be honest, there’s such a big pile, I’m not sure I’m going to want to pay to ship it all away!

Liberty Pincushion

This is another slightly older one. Back in September I bought some Liberty of London fabric to try it out and see if I’d like it as much as so many people seem to. I don’t. I find most of their prints to be fussy little florals (which is pretty high up my list of dislikes) and while I’m sure it’s wonderful for clothing, it’s so thin that I can’t understand why (some) people want to use it for quilts. Yes, it’ll last for a while, but it’s kind of delicate stuff: I don’t think it’d stand up to continual use in a bed quilt. Anyway, in the pincusion, I blended the slightly thicker than quilting cotton Essex Linen with the slightly thinner than quilting cotton Liberty Tana Lawn, so I used interfacing on the Liberty fabric to give it a little more heft, which probably did it some good. The edges of the cathedral window, particularly near the bottom ends of it, are kind of loose and open in a way I don’t love, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make them crisper, tighter corners. Maybe putting in a few whip stitches or something to join one edge to the other? (And also, maybe using a thinner fabric than the Essex linen.)

Anyway, you can make your own Cathedral Window pinnie using this pincushion tutorial on YouTube. The first one that I made, above, I made a little larger than the tutorial recommends. She says 10 cm squares for the patchwork back, which is about 4 inches, but I made mine 4.5 inches, and I shouldn’t have because it looks much nicer on the second one, which (though you can’t tell without scale in the photos) I made at the recommended size:

Liberty Pincushion

Okay, the tutorial creates a pretty great pincushion (I think) – I love the cathedral window look and it’s a pretty easy way of creating it – but it’s not the best tutorial out there. The words don’t always line up with what’s being shown in the video and there is one crucial bit of information that doesn’t get talked about that is only shown in text on the sidelines of the video (and if you’re watching the woman’s hands, as I tend to do, you might just miss it). So here’s the most important bit of information: the section that you leave open to turn the pincushion is in the patchwork portion of the sewing NOT when you sew the top to the bottom.

Liberty Pincushion

My stitches are pretty well hidden in the back, but that slightly rippled edge in the top right seam is where I left it open. When I made the first one, I sewed shut the patchwork and left open part of the side, which Did Not Work At All. I had fused on interfacing after stitching the patchwork section, so I had to rip it open and rip through the interfacing, and then restitch it closed by hand after stuffing it. Pain In The Ass.

Anyway, I made this pin cushion (and the following two projects using Liberty fabrics) for Cathy of Blueberry Patch, who won a giveaway prize from me alllllll the way back in August. Yes, it really took me until now to make and send it out. Cathy and I both own shoes made with Liberty fabrics, and I know she’s a fan of Liberty, so when her name was chosen for the prize, I decided to pick up the a Liberty scrap pack (and a couple Fat Eighths) from Pick Click Sew on Etsy so that I could try it out and have some fabric for making the prizes. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to make with it, but I kind of love all the things I did make.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

The next thing I made was the good old fabric basket from Ayumi’s tutorial at Pink Penguin. This is a great tutorial and a great size and a great way to pull together some of the smaller scraps of Liberty that I’d gotten. The scrap pack had a real mishmash of colours and prints (because I used up all the good red ones in that first pincushion) and I had hard time figuring out how to make them all work together.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

In the end, I just went crazy with the colour combos and didn’t try to match things up at all. I added the little flange of green between the patchwork and linen portions to tie in the lining fabric a little more (especially since there was none of that fresh spring green in the rest of the prints). Some of these prints are just kind of crazy – scroll up to the other photo and look on the far left side at that little carriage print, can you imagine making clothing out of that? who would want to? Anyway, I think it all comes together better than I thought it would, even though there’s nothing in particular tying one print to the next. I used the Essex linen here again, which I think is nice for the base, since it gives it a little extra heft, which helps hold the shape of the basket. (I also put a fair bit of quilting into the basket bottom because I think that helps give it some structure as well. Though really at this small size it doesn’t need too much help. The one larger one I made was too loose and kind of floppy and really could have used a few layers of a nice stiff interfacing.)

Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t have a good grouping of colours to go into this was because I used up most of the red/pink prints on the first pincushion and then I set aside most of the “good” blues (all my favourite ones, anyway…) for making the next item I sent. I don’t have a good photo of this because we’re all light-shunning vampires at my house and I couldn’t find enough sunlight anywhere to photograph it properly, but a Tiny Tree Garland (tutorial/pattern by Noodlehead):

Tiny Tree Garland

I so wish I’d had some blue perle cotton to string these up, but all I had was gold, white, pink (sashiko thread), and red. I went with red because it was the most vivid colour (and white just looked… wrong).

Tiny Tree Garland

I made these using the aforementioned Liberty scraps, but also bamboo felt from TaDaa Studio Felt. I like the bamboo stuff – it’s as soft as nice wool felt, but doesn’t have the allergy issues I know some people have with wool (or the animal ethics issues some vegans have with wool — not that I’ve got that issue myself, but I’ve made things in the past for people who have).

Tiny Tree Garland

I was trying to leave enough space between trees that Cathy could cut it down into a set of seven hanging ornaments if she’d rather use the trees that way (garlands can be awkward! and I couldn’t figure out a NICE way to end the dangling strings – I was sure I had some giant shiny gold beads that I was going to string onto the ends, but I couldn’t find them for the life of me), but looking at the photos, I’m not sure I really left enough string for loops. Anyway, it’d be pretty easy to pull out what’s there and swap in something else. (I did knot the thread on either side of each tree, but… that’s what scissors are for :D)

Anyway, that was my special prize package for Cathy, who received it excitedly yesterday 😀

Okay, jeez. Epic length post here. One last thing:

Flannel-Voile Receiving Blankets

I’ve been all about using things up lately because I’ve been going through another crisis of OMGTOOMUCHSTUFF and these receiving blankets were a way of using up some voile and flannel I had laying around. If I had more flannel in the right colours, I’d use up the rest of my (small) voile stash on blankets just like these. These were made using a Self-binding Blanket tutorial. Mine are a bit smaller than in the tutorial because I only had 1 yd of each cut. I think I cut them in the end to 34″ square for the voile and 30″ square for the flannel, but I can’t quite recall. (I do know neither of the voiles were very well cut yards because I couldn’t get the full 36″ out of them!) Anyway, it came out to about 32″ square for the blankets. They’re not perfect by a long shot – the top-stitching is pretty appalling (I couldn’t find matching thread, so I just went for contrast, but ugh, every flaw is magnified) – but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway. And they’re so lovely and light-weight. Almost makes me want to make a giant bed sized one. (Not that I’ve got a source for extra wide-width flannel or voile, but.)

Okay. 2000 words. That’s longer than some essays I wrote in university. Time to wrap it up.


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Double Hourglass Quilt

This post has been a long time coming, but I didn’t like my photos when I first took them threeish weeks ago, and then kept putting off taking more.

Hourglass Quilt

Not that this is such a great photo, stuffed into the bannister of the stairs, but it seemed like the light was going to be good for once (and then it turned out kind of weirdly overlit anyway!). Winter in Canada. A whole season of everything being underlit or overlit via light bouncing off snow. Yay.

Anyway, I finished this one around Thanksgiving, maybe October 14 or 15. It’s a baby quilt, about 36″ x 43″. I didn’t follow a pattern, but this is a very jelly roll-friendly quilt, and a very easy one to make. (If anyone wants to know how, ask and I’ll let you know, but the gist is “sew two strips of fabric together, cut into triangles, rotate to create hourglasses, sew together into a square.”) This quilt was all tailored for an old friend who hadn’t been super into baby themed items for babies (you know, little teddy bears and… I don’t know, whatever), but I didn’t wind up sending it to her in the end. (And when she sent me a picture of her baby, he was wrapped up in something with cute child themed prints anyway – maybe she’s loosened up in the intervening years on the subject. It has been 6 or more years since we’ve seen one another!) I let my mom talk me into sending her the Star Surround quilt instead, so this one will get donated to a Linus group, which is a great way to use it regardless.

Hourglass Quilt

I talked a lot in the past about the fabric selection process for this quilt (here and here) and still wound up changing things a little (I took out one of the fabrics and swapped in a different one), but generally speaking it fits the colour scheme and the type of prints I was aiming for: orange, green, blue, and red using stripes, dots, and other geometric prints. The rope text print doesn’t quite fit, but I let it slide on the basis of it’s a baby quilt. The two Stof prints are certainly more organic than geometric, but they both created a striped effect so I thought that was okay too.

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The fabrics I had the most difficulties with were the off-white ones. As a general rule, I don’t ever put an off-white print together with a pure white print, because the off-white one comes out looking dingy and dirty in comparison. But I bought the fabric online and some of them were more off-white than I was expecting. I even added in the blue/off-white loop print to try to tie in the three existing off-whites. I kept telling myself that all colours go with white and thus off-white also should go with white. It’ll be fine, Kristel. Don’t worry about it so much and nobody will even notice! But it does bother me if I spend too much time looking at those particular prints. (Colours pop so beautifully against pure white, it seems a crime not to use it!)

Hourglass Backing & Binding

I used my favourite print for the binding – that green and navy print from Emily Herrick’s Technicolor line – but it really wasn’t a great choice for a binding (seriously – scroll up to a picture of the entire quilt!) because the look varies so much from one part of the print to another. Still, I love having that green around the edges (and my different coloured corner, of course, in the red and white stripe). The backing you can see is a flannel version of one of the chevrons I used on the front of the quilt – it’s also a larger size chevron. (I think that is a medium size, where the front has a small size on regular quilting cotton. All three of the chevron fabrics I used are from Riley Blake, anyway.) This picture also shows the quilting. I went pretty minimalist with this one and only quilted on the diagonal, a little more than a quarter inch away on either side of the seams. (The foot I use has a marking on the inside of the foot at the quarter inch, but I lined it up with the outside of the foot, so there’s probably an extra 1/8-inch.) I had thought about adding something more, maybe on the white parts of each block, but didn’t want to overkill it, and anyway I find quilts more comfortable when they’re not quilted too densely (though it sure does look good!).

I always have a list of things I’d like to change about the quilts I make – there’s always something in retrospect I wish I’d done better – and in this case, I wish I’d pressed all my seams open. I’m pretty back and forth on that one, but in this case, all those dark edges of fabric that got pushed toward the white (this happened when joining the rows, generally I press toward the dark if I don’t open my seams) show through. When I first took it out of the wash, I was terrified that it had bled because I could see all these kind of streaky bits of colour, but when you get up close, it’s just the fabric pressed under in those particular places. Sigh. Oh well, as far as things I’d like to change go, I’m happy that that’s my only real complaint. I’m usually pretty good at picking apart my flaws, so that one little thing isn’t so bad at all. (Okay. That and those off-white prints. I mean, seriously, designer types: why the off-whites? Do you want dingy looking fabric, because I don’t!)

Anyway, done is good. And that’s another finish for the year. I’m not a terribly prolific quilter (like some bloggers are) and I tend never to finish things, so every finished piece is a bit of a victory.


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Bits and Bobs

I had a to-do list this weekend that felt a mile long. It really wasn’t, but it just FELT like it and it’s all because I left all my sewing commitments for October until the Very Last Second, which made it feel like work instead of fun to finish them up. And they should have been fun! Some of what I was working on I won’t be showing for a few more days, but here are some of the blocks I finished up:

Tall Shoo-fly Blocks

I sewed up four Tall Shoo Fly blocks for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group. These blocks are quite small (6.5 x 9.5″) so even though we didn’t have to make more than one I’d always planned on doing three or four. I found these hard to photograph, largely because the wall and the background fabric were pretty much the exact same colour. I kept thinking shadows would be a good thing for once since it would help distinguish the blocks a bit. It all looks a bit dingy and underlit, though, doesn’t it? Oh well, I think the blocks came out well, and that’s all I could ask for.

I’m still behind one block for the month for the LJ exchange, but I will get that one done in the next couple days, I hope. But also, I have a quilt I want to get quilted! I’m torn! (Commitments to other people really should come first, though, shouldn’t they?)

Anyway, I also did up my Simply Solids Bee block for October:

Road to Fortune

This is a paper-pieced Road to Fortune block, made for Shena of Apple Pie Patchwork. I don’t know why, but I kind of spaced out the making of this one, doing a unit two days ago and two units yesterday and finally finishing them all up tonight. Somehow I got all discombobulated about where my colours were going to go and it all came out a bit clumped up instead of nicely spread around. Oh well, I think it came out okay and it should blend in with the rest of the blocks by the time it’s all done anyway.

I also finished up my needlebook for the Sweet & Simple Scrappy Swap on Flickr. I’ve shown a lot of pictures of this already, but here are my finally finished shots. And if any of you can find my opps! error, the first one to get it right in the comments will get sent a Fat Quarter in the colour of your choosing. (Things which don’t count: the shoddy stitching on the snap, the not quite round felt, the not quite centred felt, the not quite straightly stitched felt.)

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I said before that this is a taco shaped needlebook, and here it is snapped shut and holding its taco shape all on its own. Yay! The pattern for the needlebook came from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book, but I wound up making it a bit larger than the pattern suggests. You’re supposed to shrink the daisy pattern down to 80%, but I wound up preferring it at full-size. It’s about 8-inches in diametre, I think, but the larger size made it easier to modify the interior a little bit.

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In any case, the exterior is kind of paean to Japanese design because not only is a pattern by a Japanese designer, but the green fabric is a Japanese print, from a Yuwa Kei line, which might or might not be called Newsprint and Roses. The stitching was done with Sashiko thread that I had in with my embroidery supplies. It’s nice and thick so it leaves a lovely line around the petals. Of which, the yellow fabric is a Lakehouse print, from the Annie’s Seed Catalog line and the off-white is actually a Moda Grunge fabric, though I forget the colour name of it. It’s a kind of off-white or winter white with very pale strokes of green and red brushed through in the grunge pattern.

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The interior has two leaves of wool for storing pins and needles. The green came from a local fabric shop, Traditional Pastimes, and the off-white wool was a gift to me from Jennifer Ofenstein, when she passed off a collection of mostly hand-dyed wool pieces.

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I modified the interior a little by adding this zipper pocket on one side (and if I’d had a second matching zipper, I’d have probably added a pocket on the other side as well). It wasn’t a complicated change, but I do think it made the needle-case a little more useful since otherwise scissors or a skein of thread would just slide out and possibly get lost.

So that’s my needlebook that I sent away for the swap. I was pretty happy in the end with how everything came together, and I really hope my swap partner will like it as lot as well.


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Stuff and Things

I keep putting off writing a post – I’ll do it tomorrow, sort of thing – because most of what I’m going to post about is a little too light to bother about, so today can be a bit of a Random Thursday post, though it’s not really all that random: it’s sewing/fabric related, by and large.

On Wednesday, I received this really incredible swap package for the Flickr Fat Quarter Blender Swap:

FQ Blender Swap Received!

Love, love, love every bit of it. My swap partner really nailed it with this one – you might recall my saying the other day that I’ve been having a Pink moment? Yeah. These will fit right into the mix. I really love Painter’s Canvas (that’s the navy one), and would have it in every colour if I had the money to spend on it. The paper clips are just FUN and that aqua is really lovely.

I also received my swap package for a Livejournal swap, the Talk to Me Tuesday Pound of Love/Crafty Goodness swap, but I didn’t take pictures because I recorded a video. Just have to get the video off my phone and onto YouTube.

I recently mailed off stuff for that Livejournal swap and while I didn’t take pictures of most of what I sent, I did photograph the handmade bit, which was three pot holders:

Patchwork Potholders

I don’t know what sorts of colours my swap partner loves or what types of prints, so I pretty much just let myself go crazy with the scrap bags. I wanted to make something useful, but also beautiful, and hopefully I managed to accomplish that!

Pink Patchwork Potholder

I made this pink one first, more or less following the pattern in the book Zakka Style, which was compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale (I hope I got her name right, I’m too lazy to go look it up…). The book uses the linen as the binding, which I should have done as it really ties the whole look together, but I didn’t want to cut a big old bias cut right through the middle of my Essex linen. So dark pink instead.

Patchwork Pot-holders

The pattern is for the kind of pot-holders that you can put your hand inside to pick things up, so they’re all done in that style. But I quilted the crap out of these things and even though they function as pot-holders (I tested them!), I was too scared to try holding a hot dish with them. I feel a bit like the super tight quilting clamped all the inner layers together so closely that it holds the heat too close to your hand (even though it does reflect it back up). I don’t know. There are 3 layers of fabric, a layer of cotton batting, and a layer of Insulbrite in each of these, but I was still nervous about it.

This teal one is probably my favourite, but I’m a big fan of teal/aqua. That extra bit of patchwork in the middle was in the scrap bag just like that – it was an off-cut from a quilt top I finished last year (but have never quilted…). Love it.

Chartreuse (I guess?) Patchwork Potholder

This chartreuse one was the last one I made. You can tell I haven’t really made much use of chartreuse in my sewing because I didn’t have too many options in my scrap bins – I had to slip in some other shades of green as well. This features my least favourite binding (I should have chosen a darker coloured print) and I think it knew I wasn’t happy with it, because it gave me all kinds of trouble. There are a couple little puckers, I had to sew the joining seam THREE times. Ridiculous.

Anyway, those are all en route to their new owner, who I hope will love them.

And finally – I need to go blow-dry my hair and get ready for work (I work midnight to 8:30 AM tonight!) – here’s the first block of my next project:

First block

It’s a shame my ironing board shows through, but I’m loving how this is looking. I’ve only got the one block finished, but I’m going to make 30 for the quilt top (it’s going to be a baby top) and hope to get it all together very quickly.

Baby quilt fabrics

These are all the print fabrics I’m going to use, but today I got them all sewed up into strip sets to cut into the block components. All pressed and ready to cut, and then I’ll start sewing them into blocks. I’m using 2.5″ wide strips (the white is a jelly roll), and the blocks come out to just a little bigger than 8.25″ square, though I’m trimming them down to 8 1/4. It’s a bit of an unusual size, but it’s convenient to start with the jelly roll strips, so there it is.

Oh, and finally, here is my September block for the Flickr Simply Solids group:

Simply Solids Aenous Sept. block

More churn dashes! They’re having a moment in the blogosphere.


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Star Surround Finish

I stayed up last night until nearly midnight so that I could finish and submit my Star Surround quilt for the SSQAL Parade at Happy Quilting. It might have been a dumb idea, I don’t know, but I had to get up at 4:30 AM, so dumb feels like an appropriate word. But FINISHED is another, and finished is a very, very sweet word indeed, because I never finish much of anything.

Star Surround

This quilt might be my fastest finish ever – I started it in mid-July and it’s just now mid-September and the entire thing is done and dusted. Well, I haven’t washed it yet, that’s the next step, but I’m pretty confident it’s not going to fall apart in the wash (which is my usual unfounded fear with quilting). Anyway, as a rule, the only things I ever finish in a timely fashion are small items, like pouches and pillows and pin-cushions. (Well, maybe not pin-cushions – I don’t think I’ve ever made one! Just wanted a third ‘P’ because things sound better in threes.)

On Saturday, I pieced the backing, basted the quilt, and got the straight-line quilting done on the top. Then on Sunday I spent most of an hour practising some free motion loopy quilting so that I could add that as well. And then I trimmed, made and machine sewed on the binding, and then stitched it down on the back. I was planning to try machine sewing the binding (and watched about six different videos on the subject) but got scared at the last second and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Star Surround

Anyway, quilting. If you look closely at that photo, you should be able to see that in two quadrants I stitched north/south in the ditch (every 3 inches) and in the other two quadrants I stitched east/west in the ditch. In between those stitches, I FMQed the loopy lines, which are all kind of variable in stitch length and sometimes a tiny bit choppy, but largely came out pretty well. I’ve always been pretty terrified of FMQ and it feels a little bit like cheating to have chosen a method that didn’t just let me cross my own lines, but actively required it. But I’m really kind of ridiculously proud of myself anyway. I only had to pick out stitches once (where I kind of jerked and wound up with a toe-catcher), and that seems like a pretty big victory. I guess I unpicked a few more times, but that was always only because the thread snapped as I was sewing, so I had to unpick enough so that I could bury the threads and get back to it. I quilted it with Aurifil thread, 40 wt. 4663, which is Baby Blue Eyes Variegated. I had about 6 or 7 thread breaks, well, I say thread breaks, but it was more like it sort of shredded apart, and you could pull of loose tufty bits when it broke like that. I’ve never had that happen with other thread before, but I also have never really done FMQ before, just bits and pieces to practise in the past, so I don’t know that it wouldn’t have happened with other thread.

The fabrics, if you’re curious, are from two different Riley Blake lines, One for the Boys and Boy Crazy. (Two prints each – in the photo above, the dashed stripe and the stars are from one line, the cars and the spiral stripe are from the other.) The background fabric is Kona Robin Egg, which is a gorgeous blue, and the red binding is Kona Coral. The quilt backing is a random no-name flannel that was in my stash.

Star Surround

I didn’t take any particular good photos of the backing, but it’s not a great match for the front – it’s a slightly greener aqua than the Robin Egg, but I thought it worked well enough. Especially since it’s on the back. When I bought fabric for the backing, I accidentally bought enough for the length, but not for the width and so I had planned to piece the backing with… something that wouldn’t look terrible, but didn’t find anything that seemed like it would work. So I dug this aqua with white dots out of my (rather small) flannel stash.

Anyway, that’s that quilt done. Now I kind of want to make another one, but in fabrics I love, and large enough for my bed. But probably I should finish some things… Maybe quilt some of the tops I’ve got laying around. Especially now that I’ve lost my FMQ virginity ;D